Outdoor kitchens extend your living space into your yard, giving you a place to cook and dine comfortably while you enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. These innovative spaces are growing in popularity and can be made to fit most budgets. Of course, as you plan your outdoor kitchen layout and budget, maintenance should also be a factor. Outdoor appliances are sturdy, but proper care is important. Here’s a look at how to keep your exterior kitchen in great shape, piece by piece:
Grill maintenance will vary depending on what type you own. From freestanding charcoal to built-in natural gas grills, your options are numerous, which means so, too, are the ways you should care for your cooking apparatus. Before you do anything, make sure to turn off the gas and disconnect the propane tank. When it comes to natural gas grills, follow these cleaning steps:
Cleaning the exterior
Wipe down the surface or exterior of your grill using a cloth, mild detergent and hot water. You can use a sponge to scrub pesky food. Rinse with water and let dry before you use your grill again.
Inside the lid
The inside of your grill lid will build up grease over time – it’s a normal part of cooking. This means you’ll need a stronger solution. Look for tougher cleaners, specifically those designed to cut through grease. Rinse with hot water and let thoroughly dry.
Scrub the interior pieces with a grill brush. Then, wash the grill bottom with dishwashing detergent and hot water.
If your grill has porcelain-coated grill grids, avoid using abrasive cleaning tools that may chip the coating. Instead, clean with hot water and a strong detergent. However, if particles are proving pesky, scrub carefully.
First remove food particles with a scrub brush, then wash with hot, soapy water. Rinse and let dry.
To access the grease cup, you’ll have to remove the cooking grids and heat plates. Then, follow these steps:
- Remove the burner by first unscrewing the nut from beneath the burner foot, which you can do using a screwdriver and pliers.
- Lift the burner from the gas valve.
- Clean the burner inlet with compressed air or a small brush.
- Clean out food residue and debris on the outside of the burner surface.
- Clean any clogged ports using a stiff wire (an unbent paperclip works great).
As you can see, cleaning a grill requires some elbow grease, just like cleaning your stove does. You can keep it clean and avoid damage by covering the grill when not in use. Additionally, wipe down cooking surfaces after each use so you can go longer between deep cleans. Finally, don’t scrub with steel or wire wool and clean up acidic food spills right away.
Because your refrigerator is designed for outdoor use, it’s able to maintain a constant temperature in an unstable environment, and it’s weatherproofed. However, that doesn’t mean it’s indestructible.
Outdoor fridges should be disconnected and brought indoors during winter – they should not experience temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before you disconnect, gradually increase the temperature to let ice melt.
During warmer seasons, maintain your fridge by wiping down the exterior with soapy water. Rinse and let dry. You can also clean the interior as you would your indoor refrigerator. Wipe the shelves using a mild detergent, taking one component out at a time. Rinse the fridge thoroughly and let it dry completely before you put food back in.
Surfaces and sinks
Wipe down your counters and sink after every meal. Additionally, wash the surface before you start cooking using a cloth and soapy water. Because your counters are outdoors, they’ll collect dust and debris throughout the day. You don’t want to set down ingredients and cooking utensils on a surface that’s dirty.
If you have a stainless steel sink, you want to avoid scratching the surface. So, use a soft sponge or cloth rather than steel wool to wash it. Additionally, avoid using acidic cleaners, which can cause rust.
In addition to all of your appliances and surfaces, your outdoor kitchen probably includes a dining set. The type of furniture you have will determine how you should clean and maintain it. Check out our outdoor furniture care guide to learn best practices for keeping your dining set in top condition.
Grills, sinks, refrigerators, furniture and counters: Each of these components of an outdoor kitchen requires your attention. By following our care tips, you’ll be hosting moonlight parties and daytime barbecues for years to come.
What steps do you take to keep your outdoor space in tip top shape?
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